UC Davis Launches Public Scholars Program

publcscholarlogA new UC Davis Public Scholars Program, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will be officially launched March 7 with the program “The Humanities Engaged” and announcement of the first projects. “The Humanities Engaged” takes place from 1 – 6 p.m. at the Student Community Center Multipurpose Room.

The $400,000 program supports community-engaged scholarship by graduate students in the humanities and social sciences. Projects include music education for incarcerated juveniles, the oral history of a gentrifying neighborhood and immigrant contributions to sustainable agriculture. It is administered through the UC Davis Humanities Institute.

The launch will include a roundtable discussion at 1 p.m. addressing issues such as “Who is the public?” “What does public engagement look like in the humanities?” and “Who benefits from public humanities?” Participating will be faculty from the departments of English, Chicano and Chicana Studies and design; Julie Fry, president of California Humanities; and Chet Hewitt, CEO of Sierra Health Foundation. Sara Guyer, Director of the Center for the Humanities at University of Wisconsin, Madison, will give the keynote address at 3 p.m.

Some of the 10 inaugural projects and scholars from eight departments and programs:

  • Music Education in Juvenile Corrections Rehabilitation, Yolo County Juvenile Detention Center, Jonathan Favero, music.
  • Creative Destruction- An Oral History of a Gentrifying Neighborhood, Bridget Clark, sociology. Oakland.
  • Education Behind Bars, Lily Hodge, history. Throughout California.   
  • Race, Citizenship, and Agrarian Histories: Situating Immigrant Contributions to Sustainable Agriculture in California, Jennifer Sedell, geography. Throughout California.  
  • Multi-Ethnic Publishing in the San Francisco Bay Area: A Community History, Simon Abramowitsch, English.

“The Public Scholars Program will take the Humanities Institute into new territory since it has the potential to foster innovation across the humanities at UC Davis,” said David Biale, institute director and history professor. “We’re especially excited and hopeful about this opportunity since it reimagines, and reaffirms, what humanities centers can do.”

While other universities have developed public humanities programs and offer degrees or certificates in the public humanities, few combine the research-oriented goals of nurturing public scholarship with professional development for graduate students, he said. The Public Scholars seminar at UC Davis will provide students with training in areas such as project management, digital methods and communication at the same time they are developing new research skills.

Also taking part in the program are eight students from other UC campuses who were selected by their humanities centers and institutes funded through the UC Humanities Research Institute.

Visit the Mellon Public Scholars website to learn more about the program and for a full list of projects.

— Jeffrey Day, content strategist in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science